The government shutdown and the threat of default appear to be all but forgotten by the stock market, which already hit a record high yesterday. This morning, the S&P 500 is up 0.4%, while the price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is flat, as of 10:10 a.m. EDT.
On the headline numbers alone, General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) third-quarter results don't look that impressive. Revenue and net income fell by 1% and 9%, respectively, versus the year-ago quarter; earnings per share were flat.
However, the revenue shortfall was driven by a planned shrinking of assets at GE Capital and an unfavorable foreign-exchange effect of $132 million. Neither of these should concern investors: The former is consistent with a long-term goal of rebalancing the company's earnings away from its financing subsidiary; the second is out of the company's control.
Furthermore, EPS of $0.36 topped Wall Street's expectations by a penny (incidentally, these results must have been heavily telegraphed by the company -- Yahoo! Finance has 14 analysts submitting estimates with a range of $0.35 to $0.36).
Investors are focusing on other positive areas, too, including the conglomerate's orders across its industrial businesses, which grew at a healthy 29% clip to $25.7 billion thanks to broad growth worldwide. General Electric also said it's on track to hits its goal of increasing the operating margin of its industrial segment to 15.8% this year from 15.1% in 2012. All told, these factors (among others) are enough for investors to send the shares up 1.9% this morning.
Yesterday, Dow component Goldman Sachs reported that net revenues in its fixed income, currency, and commodities unit fell a stunning 44% year on year to $1.25 billion, contributing to a 20% drop in the bank's total revenue. That decline had Goldman Sachs (unusually) bringing up the rear relative to its peers in bond trading. However, this morning Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ) reported exactly the same percentage drop in fixed income and commodities sales and trading revenue, confirming that all the top banks suffered from slowing bond-market activity -- particularly the pure-play investment banks.